Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-installed head of the North Caucasus Republic of Chechnya, has criticized the recent conviction and sentencing of five Chechens for the 2015 murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.
According to a statement posted on the Chechen government's website, Kadyrov told a government meeting on July 13 that the five men were convicted on "doubtful evidence."
Kadryov reportedly said he was surprised that prosecutors sought a life sentence for the convicted triggerman, Zaur Dadayev, as he could not recall a similar punishment being handed down in comparable criminal cases.
In a video recorded after the meeting, Kadyrov described the men as "completely innocent."
Nemtsov, who was a vocal critic of Kadyrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead near the Kremlin on February 27, 2015. The five Chechens with ties to Kadyrov's security forces were given long prison terms by a Moscow military court on July 13.
Kadyrov also said the killings of Chechens and other Caucasians in Russian cites were routinely ignored by human rights activists.
"I am convinced that a well-financed, intentional informational and ideological war is being waged against Chechnya and its people," Kadyrov said.
Earlier this week, Amnesty International urged the Kremlin to investigate a Novaya Gazeta report that 27 people had been summarily executed by Chechen security forces in January.
Security forces controlled by Kremlin-installed Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov have been accused of gross human rights abuses for many years, including abductions, torture, and killings.